* Floats enterprise development scheme
By Codratus Godson & Sam Asogwa
For some years now, farmers in Egi area of Rivers State have the fortune of access to the best cassava stems in the world. The stems produce improved tubers that have medicinal qualities and help the eye. This year, the good turn came again from their most benefactors next door. This brought joy as it paved the way to agro-enterprises and other benefits so far launched for the Egi people.
Multinational Oil Company, Total E&P Nigeria, seems to move a step further in its quest to boost grassroots economic power in the host communities around Oil Mining license 58 in Rivers State.
The company has boosted food production, through improvement in the major food staple in Egi area through support to improved stems, fish farming, snail farming, maggot farming, feed production, etc. It says the scheme is to support entrepreneurship, eradicate hunger and poverty, and increase food production in its host communities in Rivers State.
The company on Tuesday July 9, 2019, distributed high yield cassava stems to hundreds of farmers in Egi area at a special programme held at Obite Civic Centre. The cassava stems support programme has been going on.
The high-yield cassava stems shared to the farmers are also medicinal as it is rich in vitamin A which is essential for healthy eyes.
In his keynote address at the event, the deputy general manager (DGM), Community Affairs and Development of Total, Port Harcourt District, James Urho, represented by the manager, Patrick Idoko, said the programme was part of the business and enterprise development for farmers in the company’s OML 58 operational area.
He said the programme was designed to introduce the best variety of cassava stem species to assist grassroots farmers in Egi area.
Urho further explained: “We are here today to continue in our desire to challenge ourselves to the positive reinforcement of our commitments on sustainability of agricultural programmes. Today’s ceremony is symbolic because we are going to officially hand over the improved cassava stem to 400 host community selected farmers from the 16 Egi communities to plant and nurture them to maturity. We have plans to introduce a full integrated cassava processing chain for the good people of Egi.
“The decision by Total E&P Nigeria Ltd to introduce this improved stem to farmers is to boost agricultural development as a viable and profitable business. This new stem has several advantages over the traditional cassava stem currently used by farmers in Nigeria due to its super yield.
“In introducing this scheme, we are building on the various programmes in agriculture extension services, including the provision of improved stems, fish farming, snail farming, maggot farming, feed production, etc, in OML 58. We see the need to continue to enhance the agricultural potentials of this area as key to the food security of the area and the state at large.”
Earlier, Idoko said he was privileged to champion the programme on behalf of the DGM, adding that he believes in farming. “Anybody who tries to stop you from farming wants you to die because for us to live, we need food. We feel there’s no money in farming because of the way we’ve been doing it. You will never go wrong going into farming.”
Idoko advised the farmers to make good use of the cassava stems and called on the Egi people to remain peaceful in order to keep attracting development to their land.
In his goodwill message, the paramount ruler of the area, Charles Okikeih, the Eze Ogwe 1of Egi, thanked Total and charged the people of the area to reciprocate by remaining peaceful, accommodating and progressive-minded. He urged the farmers to make good use of the cassava stems.
The Community Development Committee chairman of Ogbogu Community, Eze Ejah, commended Total for distributing the cassava stems to the farmers and hoped for sustenance.
Also, the CDC secretary of Obite Community, Dimpka Obed, described Total’s action as overwhelming. “This gift from Total will help to improve cassava farming in our land.”
One of the recipients of the cassava stems, Edith Jonah, expressed gratitude to Total for the gift and promised to plant it without delay.
Another farmer, John Okey, said the cassava stems distribution is the beginning of better things to come for the Egi farmers. He thanked Total for the vision to support them in fighting hunger.